W40K Short – ‘Dialogue’

Following 598 word short was written in response to a challenge on the original Black Library forums.  The challenge was to write a piece that implied dialogue, but without ever using any quotation marks.

Do you want this to end?

I am sure that is what he’s saying, but I can no longer manage to extract reality from the mass of hallucinations that I have been suffering ever since the witch woman broke me.

My captors started out gently enough, invoking simple techniques designed merely to unnerve me. We can break you at any time, they said. But there’s no point in rushing it. After all – we have all the time in the world. You do not.

Yes, gentle at the beginning. Then they got more focused on the withdrawal of information from my mind. But I am a secret keeper. You can trust me with your life.

I will not break, I told them. They nodded their understanding of my rebellious words and simply stepped things up a gear.

How long is it since you’ve been here?

That question came from the man with whom I briefly shared a cell. I didn’t even know who he was. When was that? Two? Three days ago? Maybe more, maybe less. I no longer have the ability to tell time. There are no windows, no regular meals. Nothing.

I couldn’t answer his question. I didn’t know the answer. It was all he needed. Long enough, he suggested. You’ve been here long enough not to care any more. It’ll be over soon.

He lied.

There was more. Ever more creative ways of attempting to torture the information from me. But I would not yield. Even when they brought forth the psyker woman to probe the darkest recesses of my mind. Even she could not breach the barrier I had so carefully put around my thoughts all this time.

She failed to get the information they wanted. But she did deliver what they had promised.

She broke me.

Do you want this to end?

He is speaking to me again. I must be strong. I have to hold onto my secrets. I cannot let them find out what they want. The consequences are too dire, the outcome too grim. But yet I cannot resist forever. Not any more.

Do you want this to end?

Yes. I do want it to end. I let out an involuntary sob against the pain in my mind, the pain in my soul. Everything there is so scrambled now that I am a worthless husk. I want it to end, I confirm. Whether the words leave my mouth or not, I do not know, but there is a reaction.

Then hold your head high, soldier, he says. The strangeness of the gentle request surprises me and I can barely raise my head to look at him. The man from the cell, in full uniform and acting, I suspect, on his own rather than to given orders The man who told me – no, promised me – that it would end soon.

As he holds the gun to my temple, for the first time since my captivity, I am at peace with the decision. I have held onto my beliefs, my morals and have been true and faithful to those I call ‘brother’. I have not given them away. I will never see them again. But their secret dies with me.

They are safe.

My eyes meet his and there is deep compassion evident. We share a silent exchange, an understanding of the need for release. With an almost imperceptible nod of his head, his finger tightens on the trigger. I move my mouth, but no sound comes out. And yet I know that he hears my final words.

Thank you.


2 thoughts on “W40K Short – ‘Dialogue’

  1. Murray says:

    I like it. That repeated “Do you want this to end?” is particularly effective.

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